Name: Salman Rafi
Date: 13th May, 09
“Child is the father of Man”
Wordsworth wrote a poem The Rainbow and left behind a very famous saying that “child is the father of man.” This statement has been interpreted by various critics in various ways. For Wordsworth, it is important because a child is spiritually very elevated. He has a direct link with nature. He says that a child is a symbol of purity and innocence which remains untarnished until he grows up and gets engaged in worldly affairs. Wordsworth thinks a child is more akin to nature. His orderliness and acts have hidden meanings although he himself may be unaware of it. He thinks that childhood period is the ground or the basis of man’s personality. Childhood experiences form one’s personality and they reflect what a child is going to be. Another school of thought says about this statement that “a child is a potential man.” He develops his most of qualities in childhood period which gradually help him in becoming a mature person. Even modern psychology says that man’s personality gets complete in early age of his life. So, child is the father of man for many reasons. A Child is more innocent and pure, more spiritual and has direct link with nature. This period of life provides basis for the coming periods of life as well. So, this is the most significant period of life. However, I am going to justify the statement, “A Child is father of Man” in various ways and will elaborate how child is the father of man. Wordsworth has both idealized and idolized childhood. His personality was very much affected by his childhood experiences with nature. Therefore, he emphasizes Rafi 2
spiritual side of childhood and attaches much importance to this period of life. In his famous “Immortality Ode”, he shows incredible tribute for the child and calls him: Best philosopher……
Mighty prophet! And seer bless.
The poet feels that a child sees a celestial light and enjoys himself in the dreamy grandeur. What he means to say is that a child is like a mystic who has some ability of seeing the light of heaven in some objects of nature which a common man may not be able to see. As the critic, Marion Montgomery says: Wordworth’s reflections on his line, used as epigraph to his ‘Intimation Ode’ leads him to conclude that the child is ‘best philosopher’ because so reflection so recently come
from heaven streaming clouds of glory, a small
perfection of man which will grow from. 
A child is a prophet because he represents nature. As nature (God) guides prophets, in the same way, Nature itself guides a child. Same is the case with Wordsworth who spent his childhood in the lap of nature. Nature was his Heaven and the only guide and teacher in his mental and spiritual growth. For him, childhood period is the best period to be guided by nature. He writes in his poem, The Prelude: Fair seed-time had my soul and I grew up,
Fostered alike by beauty and by fear
Thus, a child is purer than adults in tune with the spiritual side of nature. A child is not spoilt by the defiling inevitability of growing up to the adulthood in an impure world. By Rafi 3
saying that a child is the father of man, he means to touch the universal appeal of nature and the life long she gave to the poet. William Wordsworth believes that the soul of man knows everything possible before it is thrown in this world. At the time of the birth, one simply forgets which one’s soul knew once. When he says that child is the father of man, he is explicating his belief that the child is in constant astonishment with life unlike his father who has become immune to the day-to- day life. That is to say that a child knows more of life because he is nearer to its previous state and existence of soul and man has drifted away from it. By the previous existence of the soul of man, we mean it is that existence which is...
Bibliography: Title quote from: William Wordsworth, The Rainbow, 1888.
1. Montgomery, Marion. “Words and Tinker Toys” Romantic confusion of the good.
2. Eiser, Christine. “The Child is the father of the Man---Wordsworth” Children with Cancer: The Quality of life. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
3. Anon. Attributed as a Jesuit maxim, Leans Collectanea, Vol.3, p. 472, 1903, (quoted in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Vol.4, 1992).
Please join StudyMode to read the full document